רבן שמעון בן גמליאל אומר אין עושין נפשות לצדיקים דבריהם הן הן זכרונן
ירושלמי שקלים פ"ב ה"ה
וכאן אמר לי הנצי"ב ז"ל בהתרגשות גדולה, אני לא אתן לשפת רוסית דריסת רגל בישיבה ולו גם יסגרוהIs this consistent with R. Dr. Schacter's celebrated revisionist thesis about the closing of Volozhin?
In a way. The article mentions that there were some Russian classes (not very serious ones.) The offical reason for the closing was the Russian dispute and the yeshiva could have stayed open had it been redesigned into a Rabbinical seminary but it ws the "malshinus" (on the part of some of the bachurim upset over the Rosh Yeshiva issue) that really caused the gov't to look into it.Anyway know if the speech of Netziv is recorded elsewhere.
To the contrary. The claims of these revisionists are misleading and dishonest.As a practical matter, the choice facing the yeshiva was accept (a whole lot of) Russian or close the yeshiva. They chose the latter. The fact that the dispute over succession had a role in the authorities decision to make this the choice does not change that this was in fact the choice at hand and the decision to be made.The fact that malshinus played a role in this is an interesting historical fact. It should also be instructive to the many contemporary malshinim, who similarly try to invoke governmental authority for their own causes, and frequently destroy a lot while failing to achieve their ends. But it doesn't change the proximate cause of Volhozhin closing.
To raise another angle, it seems like Volozhin was quite the basket case at the end, so its unclear what exactly was lost and what would have gained without the malshinus. All of that said, it seems like everyone ratted on everyone else in the 19th century, all while the Czar was plotting new ways of being awful to the Jews. My limmud zechus for all is that lacking other powers, and feeling the boot at their throat, it almost made sense for factions to try to use the government to their advantage, even if we can look at it in disgust and realize that the government wasn't going to help any of the Jews and had ill intent toward all of them.As for revisionism, as it happens the demands the Russians made were such that it could not have been considered a yeshiva after all was said and done, and it could not even have been considered a rabbinical seminary. Therefore of course they could not have remained open. However, this doesn't really speak to the question of how much changing the character of the yeshiva they could have endured and remained open. For example, could they have become something like the average American yeshivish mesivta vis a vis secular studies?
"as it happens the demands the Russians made were such that it could not have been considered a yeshiva after all was said and done, and it could not even have been considered a rabbinical seminary. Therefore of course they could not have remained open."Not so simple.There were already rules in place about learning Russian that they were only nominally complying with. Presumably had they "accepted" the government demands they would have similarly made only nominal attempts to comply, and would not have instituted the actual government demands. But they would have had to significantly expand on what they were doing to that point, which was the problem.[In general, if you look at Russian history of the 19th century, there were all sorts of laws and rules that remained on the books but were widely evaded or ignored.]
I understand that, but Volozhin was davka a flash point, and deemed an academy of insurrection and symbol of Jewish backwardness. I'm not saying that I know that the government oversight would have increased to the point where they couldn't even try to make a go of it for awhile, but it seems like the days of being able to have some kind of symbolic fulfillment of the decree were over. Indeed, we don't have to speculate. The government literally closed the place down and kicked the roshei yeshiva out of town.
Maybe. Maybe not. Those who argued to keep the yeshiva open (& there were a few) were arguing that "g'zeira asida l'hibatel" and that they'd be able to get it overturned. Certainly the Netziv's comments about it reopening point in that direction. Had they been successful at that they might have only had to fake it for a short time.The government literally closed the place down after the yeshiva refused to agree to their offer. That says nothing about what they would have done had the yeshiva accepted the offer and pretended to comply with it (possibly bribing some local officials to report compliance, as these things were done at that time and place).[As it happens, in actual fact, Volhozhin eventually did reopen illegaly (pretending to be a private bais medrash, IIRC) and avoided the government. Of course, by then it had permanently lost its former glory, and it may well have been harder to pull off otherwise.]But in any event, what the government would have done is not the crux of the question, from our perspective. The more pertinent question is what the rabbis of the time thought the government would do. And here I'm saying that they may well have calculated that they could pull it off with a couple of hours of secular studies a day - and still refused to do it. If that's correct, then the portrayals in charedi literature are correct, and the MO revisionists are incorrect (in this as well).The CC is cited in his sefer on Chumash as saying that the rabbonim refused to allow 2 hours a day secular and the rest Torah because it would eventually turn into 2 hours a day of Torah and the rest secular. At first glance this seems at odds with the facts (& the CC was about 55-60 at the time). But I'm pointing out that this may well have been the way the leadership perceived the issue at the time. And this also consistent with RC Berlin's statement, and the Netziv's comments as quoted here.ISTM that all the contemporaneous evidence points in the same direction on this issue.
I should also add, re the malshinus issue, that not all the malshinus attributed to warring factions in Volhozhin necessarily came from them. It's been noted that the letter to the gov ostensibly signed by yeshiva students is all pseudonyms, and while they may be pseudonyms of yeshiva students, they may be pseudonyms of outsiders as well. Of course, this would not be reflected in government records that contemporary researchers pore over.But again, I consider the whole malshinus issue largely irrelevant to the core issue, as previous.
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